A primitive sarcopterygian fish with an eyestalk

M Zhu, X Yu, P E Ahlberg
Nature 2001 March 1, 410 (6824): 81-4
The discovery of two Early Devonian osteichthyan (bony fish) fossils has challenged established ideas about the origin of osteichthyans and their divergence into actinopterygians (teleosts and their relatives) and sarcopterygians (tetrapods, coelacanths, lungfishes and related groups). Psarolepis from China and an unnamed braincase from Australia combine derived sarcopterygian and actinopterygian characters with primitive features previously restricted to non-osteichthyans, suggesting that early osteichthyan evolution may have involved substantial parallellism between sarcopterygians and actinopterygians. But interpretation of these fossils has been hampered by poor phylogenetic resolution. Here we describe a basal sarcopterygian fish, Achoania gen, et sp. nov., that fills the morphological gap between Psarolepis and higher sarcoptergyians. We also report the presence of eyestalk attachments in both Achoania and Psarolepis, showing that this supposedly non-osteichthyan feature occurs in basal sarcopterygians as well as the actinoptergyian-like Australian braincase.

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